Chance Encounter

With near-record high temperatures and a cloudless sky, yesterday was a parasol day. I collapsed it down to tiny umbrella size and shape before I got a seat on the number 6 train uptown. There’s a general impression about New Yorkers never talking to one another; it’s not true. We enjoy the illusion of private space, but chatting with strangers isn’t uncommon.

The woman sitting next to me said, “Boy you’re a pessimist with an umbrella on a day like today.”

“It’s a parasol. A friend got for me in Hong Kong.”

“Does it really work?”

“Oh, I get my small circle of personal shade as walk.”

“Have you ever heard of the Explorers Club?” she asked.

I nodded. Of course I’d heard of it, but only in the context of movies about adventurers and exotic travel.

“Did you know that they have lectures that are open to the public?”

She went on to tell me all about the monthly lecture series. It sounded great.

“It’s only $20 and there’s wine and snacks, too.”

Even better — I can afford that.

Then she pointed to my bracelets. I bought myself two, colorful bangles made of recycled plastic at the Museum of African Art in Washington, DC. It was part of a program for women artisans and they were so cute and light that I couldn’t resist. She was wearing a lovely bracelet that she’d bought in a flea market in Nigeria and recognized mine as African in design. It was the combination of the parasol and the bracelets that led her to believe I was, if not a kindred spirit, at least a good companion for a subway ride.

So what does this have to do with MONSTERS? Everything. By the time I’d walked from the station at Lexington and 53rd to my appointment at Madison and 53rd, I’d already begun to plot the scenario.

Switch out my recycled plastic bangles for something more impressive — perhaps an amber cuff inherited from my great-grandmother — and change the well-known Explorers Club for The Adventurers Club (or the Vampire Hunters or the Monster Society) and I’ve got the opening scene of one solid Monster tale.

Monsters are everywhere.


  1. I’m a great believer in chance encounters 😀 Can’t even begin to imagine what kind of monster something like this one would lead to but I’m intrigued nonetheless!

  2. The good thing about ideas is that you don’t have to pay rent on them or feed them. They’re happy to just sit there as a note for months or years. Then, when you need them they snap into service like good little soldiers.

    My one and only short story was like that. It sat and waited patiently until I was ready. I hope your folder of ideas is overflowing because you’ll be writing for a very long time.

    • Candy

      A dearth of ideas is never my problem. I’m usually in the opposite mode doing triage. I’ve got to ask myself which thoughts are worth pursuing and which ones would make good short stories versus longer works with greater commitments of time. I’ve always got a bunch of fiction projects going.

      A few years ago a friend of a friend who is a therapist kept trying to seduce me into going to one of her special workshops for “creative people.” Her pitch involved telling me it would help me generate ideas. I almost choked on my sushi. She was trying to build a practice specializing in artists and she thought I spent my life searching for story ideas. Ha! It reminds me of the people who learn that I write mysteries and offer to give me their “fabulous concept for a book.” The conversation usually runs something like this…

      “I’ve got this great idea for a mystery. You write the book and then we’ll split the profits.”

      (Yes, people really think it works that way.)

      “Why don’t you write it yourself?”

      “Oh, no, I can’t type well enough.” OR “I hate writing. It takes too much time.”

      Boy oh, boy do I love those weird encounters. Maybe I should write a story about them?

  3. Hi Candy! I’ve nominated you for the Dr. Horrible blog award 😀 The three nominees I chose all have books coming out soon so get out there and do some promoting!

    • Candy

      I knew my To-Do list was magical. Every time I strike something off it it grows to more tasks. But this one… I think I will figure out how to do it.